Add to the perennial question “What Makes a Book Mormon?” another: “What Makes a Publisher Mormon?” A look at Agreka Books, of Scottsdale, Arizona, may help us at least decide what is not a Mormon publisher.
When I was a student at BYU some enterprising student published a hardcover guide titled The Mormon Media Market, which followed the model of the Writer’s Digest annual guide Writer’s Market (now the subject of numerous spin-offs and copy-cat works). I thought at the time that this was a good idea, although it was clear from the content in the book that there wasn’t much of a market.
That has changed in the more than 20 years since that guide was published, and WindRiver Publishing is proving it, with the second (2010) edition of its LDS Writer’s Market Guide – 2010.
The LDS Booksellers Association‘s annual convention starts today.
For those who don’t know about this convention, it is the principal trade show for LDS products. Most of the association’s 200 producers and distributors display their wares for the 200 member bookstores, who attend hoping to learn what new products are available. Its the LDS equivalent of BookExpo America or the annual shows that many other industries have around the country each year.
I’ve been attending on and off for nearly 15 years, enough to learn something about how the industry works and see the value of the show. I’ve seen the number of stores decline from more than 350 to about 200 now. Attendance at the show has also declined. I’ve also seen the LDSBA’s policies develop, as it sought to improve professionalism among its members.
I think this kind of organization is important. A trade show is useful; its more efficient than sending sales reps (which LDS publishers and producers don’t have) to every bookstore, and it can be more effective than mailing catalogs and making sales phone calls. But I won’t be attending this year, in part because the products I’d hoped to have ready aren’t done yet, and in part because I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with the show.
In my recent post on Motley Vision, I pointed out one of the pitfalls of author contracts — inadequate out-of-print clauses (see Caveat Auctor). In the follow up discussion, I realized that what we need is a comparison of the various boiler plate contracts used by Mormon publishers, especially given common complaints about some publishers.
Such a comparison would help publishers as much as authors. Knowing how their contracts differ from those of other publishers can either spur the publisher to change its contract or help it understand the selling points of its contract. From what I’ve heard and seen of these contracts, there may be as much ignorance on the part of publishers as their is on the part of authors.
So, I’m issuing a call for example contracts from each publisher in the LDS market — provided either by the publishers themselves, or by authors that contracted with each publisher. I believe that by compiling this information both authors and publishers will benefit.